Monday, August 31, 2009


New York, Aug 31 2009 4:10PM
Germany took the helm of United Nations peacekeeping's first-ever maritime task force (MTF), which was deployed off the coast of Lebanon in 2006 to curtail arms smuggling following that year's war Israel-Hizbollah war.

The naval force, part of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon has been deployed on the request of the Lebanese Government to help the country's navy secure territorial waters and help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms and other materials by sea into the Middle Eastern nation.

"Through its monitoring activities, the MTF has not only been playing a critical deterrence role, warding off all attempts at illegal arms trafficking," said UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano at the handover ceremony from Italy to Germany. "It has also contributed to a safe environment for commercial ships travelling to and from Lebanon."

Since the start of operations in October 2006, the Force has hailed some 27,000 ships and referred nearly 400 suspicious vessels to Lebanese authorities for further inspection.

Thirteen countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey – have contributed naval units to the MTF.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Security Council extends mandate of UN force in southern Lebanon

27 August 2009 – The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon UNIFIL for an extra year as it commended its role, in concert with the national armed forces, in creating a new strategic environment in the south of the country. In resolution 1884, the Council welcomed "the expansion of coordinated activities between UNIFIL and the Lebanese armed forces and encourages further enhancement of this cooperation." The 15-member reiterated its call on all concerned parties to respect the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah following their 2006 war, as well as the entirety of the Blue Line along their border.

UNIFIL, established in 1978, is tasked with ensuring that the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River is free of unauthorized weapons, personnel and assets, and it also cooperates with the Lebanese armed forces so they can fulfil their security responsibilities.

Today's resolution also welcomed UNIFIL's moves to implement Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

Addressing reporters, Philip John Parham, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, said that unanimous adoption of the resolution extending the Force's mandate "demonstrates the Council's clear and strong support for the very valuable work UNIFIL is doing."

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UN force commander briefs Prime Minister-designate on southern Lebanon

20 August 2009 – The head of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri today discussed the security situation in the country's south, and developments relating to the Security Council resolution that helped to end the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah. "I informed the Prime Minister-designate that we consider the security situation in south Lebanon as generally quiet and the parties reiterated their commitment to resolution 1701 and to upholding the cessation of hostilities," Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano said in a statement following the meeting.

Resolution 1701 calls for, among other things, renewed respect for the Blue Line separating the Lebanese forces and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the disarming of militias and an end to arms smuggling.

Among the tasks entrusted to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is monitoring the cessation of hostilities; accompanying and supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces as they deploy throughout the south; and extending assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

"I stressed to Mr. Hariri the importance of the good cooperation we have with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the necessity of continued support of the Government of Lebanon for our joint endeavour towards implementation of resolution 1701," said Maj.-Gen. Graziano.

Following his meeting with Mr. Hariri last week, the top UN envoy for Lebanon said he hopes that the country's new Government, when formed, will renew its commitment to, and fully carry out, resolution 1701.

Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, noted areas of progress in this regard, including the ongoing process of demarcating the Blue Line and last year's exchange of prisoners and remains between Hizbollah and Israel. But he added that the overall objectives of resolution 1701 – a permanent ceasefire and lasting solution – are yet to be achieved.

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